Lost our Prize Calf to SAND

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by JElfering, May 25, 2006.

  1. JElfering

    JElfering Dairy Dreamer

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    We are mourning the lost of our prize calf. She was two days shy of 2 months old. She weighed in at 200# because of mother's milk. We began weaning her because the fresh pasture from mother's milk was giving her scours. Unfortunately, we let her out in a pen that had a sand/dirt mound and the weaning process made her curious for some tasty sand. We thought it kind of cute but odd. She was only out in the pen for four hours on Tuesday and five hours on Wednesday but had consumed a large quantity.

    The children were real troopers and tried all morning to get her to drink and stay alive. She died in their arms. The vet finally came at 9:15 a.m. We called at 6:00 a.m. but she had a herd call. It didn't matter. The vet would have hydrated and the calf would have died later. She performed an autopsy to discover the sand filled her stomach and secum. The intestines were empty and she was not getting any nourishment. Other than the sand she was a prize winning calf with a top ten sire and a Grand Champion dam. The vet was impressed with her growth and development. However, it didn't matter much, the calf was dead.

    My son, who was to show her at the county fair in August, took it hard. My daughter, who wants to be a vet, also had a tough time. I too had a good cry. It was good to know that we really didn't do anything to bring about her demise but certainly we are better for knowing the effects of a sand diet.

    Over the last four years we have never had an issue. This spring we have had milk fever, pneumonia and sand death. It is all good and makes us appreciate the farming life all the more. There is always something to learn. It was bound to happen, it was just a matter of time before the death cycle hit our little farmette.

    I was most surprised that my one son said he felt sand in her gut when he was caring for her. I didn't realize that he was right and didn't think it could kill her. We are now watching the other three calves to see if they consumed too much sand. So far everyone is passing and the digestive systems are working. If we had not started to wean, our calf may have pulled through but it is hard to say. The vet said it would have taken a miracle with that much sand even if we had not weaned her to get it out of her stomach and secum.

    Thanks for letting me ramble. This is a tough day for us all. I hope none of you have to experience this "sand" death.
     
  2. myheaven

    myheaven Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Im so sorry for all of you.
     

  3. Goat Freak

    Goat Freak Slave To Many Animals

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    OH MY GOSH! I am SO SORRY! My little bottle buckling started to eat sand when we put him outside, I am SO GLAD now that I stopped him from doing it. I don't know why animals do stuff that can hurt themselves. Sorry once again. may you get a little heifer just like her REAL soon. Good Luck. Bye.
     
  4. JElfering

    JElfering Dairy Dreamer

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    Thanks for your sympathy. I hope that perhaps others may learn from our story. I am so glad that it affirmed your thoughts goat freak. Good to know you stopped him. We are calling on a dairy farmer who had already offered a heifer calf to us. He said we could make payments. We left him a message but I know whoever talks with him will breakdown again. The children and I have been crying off and on all morning. They share their memory of what happened and feel that there might have been something we could have done. I listen and assure them that things like this happen and they are not always easy to accept. I have never read about this in a book. Then again, I have not read all the books. I use to think that if you could read you could do anything but now I am convinced that in life you still need life experiences to learn by.

    Jen
    Adopt10
     
  5. bare

    bare Head Muderator

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    Huh! I'm curious to know if your critters have ready access to a quality mineral block?

    Maybe there is some mineral or salt that the sand contained that they crave?
     
  6. Goat Freak

    Goat Freak Slave To Many Animals

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    I hope that you and your kids feel better. It's gonna be hard, but maybe if you get the new heifer, maybe it will help them get over it. There will always be a place in your heart that misses her, but you can still have happy times, nad things will get better. Good Luck.
     
  7. dezeeuwgoats

    dezeeuwgoats Well-Known Member

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    Around here, horses get treated for sand ingestion all the time. We have to feed up off the ground. Treated one fof my colts for sand colic, and a pony I bought had to be fed psyllium in the form of a product designed to clear sand from the equine digestive season. She had 'sugared' poops for about two weeks. The white sand actually coated the horse apples!

    I had NO idea cows could struggle with it - and NOW I've got a clear picture in my mind of some of my nigerians who appear to have a certain 'lick' area in their pen. They have minerals, but I'm going to need to put a stop to that for sure.

    niki
     
  8. JElfering

    JElfering Dairy Dreamer

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    Huh! I'm curious to know if your critters have ready access to a quality mineral block?

    Yep "Bare", they do have mineral blocks. The vet explained that sometimes the calf just develops a liking for the sand and can't stop. It was also enhanced by weaning her because the milk from the mother would have kept her nourished if she could have taken in more hay to move the sand through. It happened so quickly. Funny thing, DH also had an inkling last night to put her on to nurse. We both ignored it.


    Treated one fof my colts for sand colic,

    "Niki", the vet told us too that horses do this all the time. I never knew it was an issue with cows either.


    I hope that you and your kids feel better.

    Thanks again "Goat Freak". DH is home now and feels bad, but somehow I don't think he'll have the full picture because he missed it all.
     
  9. Goat Freak

    Goat Freak Slave To Many Animals

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    Your welcome, good luck with everything. Bye.
     
  10. needstoknowmore

    needstoknowmore Rattlin Rock Ranch

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    I am so sorry for your loss...

    I will be much more watchfull of Ellie Moo now. I gave her minerals as soon as I saw her licking everything in site. I do treat my horses to keep them from getting sand colic. But hadn't even thought about it with the calf.

    Again I am very sorry for your loss. But thanks for sharing so that the rest of use can be aware of the problem.
     
  11. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    What was she as far as breed goes?


    Many freestall herds use sand, and there have been cases with cows, that sand has killed cows. They eat it, and it binds their system up, killing them.


    Sucks though, not only to loose a calf with good breeding behind it, but a calf that is grown well, 200lbs at 2 months is really nice, ideal weight to cut back to attain a consistent growth (if dairy), of 1.75lbs day till 12 months. EIther way, sorry for the loss.


    Jeff
     
  12. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

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    Oiiigh! That's just plain a bad break. Condolences in order. For a calf raised that way on mother's milk, I doubt it was a deficiency of minerals. Just plain bad luck. Shows courage on your part to share this so others can intervene and avoid it. I was walking a 10 hour old calf and it's Momma to the barn yesterday and the calf stuck it's nose down and started chewing on dirt. I shooed it onward just because it was slowing down progress to get on to milking. Guess I got lucky. We'll watch for this in the future though.
     
  13. JElfering

    JElfering Dairy Dreamer

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    Jasmine was a jersey, her mother was a grade Grand Champion at last year's fair with a nice barrel that inticed many callers to purchase her but we refused to sell. Her father was Million, a dutch-bred jersey that runs larger with more milking capacity. We were planning to raise and breed her so we could start the registered process through Genetic Recovery.

    You're right Jeff, it was time to wean with such a nice start and that's why she went so fast. If I would have kept her on the mother, she MAY have pulled threw.

    I am still sullen although the children are bouncing back.

    This is a great site and I have learned a lot so I don't mind sharing as tough as it is. You just don't get experience from a book. I have been humbled yet again. Glad to hear others are seeing the dangers of sand ingestion.

    Have a great Memorial Weekend,
    Jen
    ADOPT10
     
  14. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    The kids bounce back, because they don't understand the genetic significance of the animal, and it was only emotional to them. However you do, not only is it sentimental, it was a good animal as well, the start of your registered herd. The good ones do this to us all, they either die, or get injured. The ones that aren't worth as much seem to outlive everything else, and never get sick.


    One way to start a herd, is go to an auction after you study which bulls are the good ones out there (Brook Bomber calves have really nice udders, we have a heifer, that udder is going to be nice). There are others, but it is an option!


    Jeff
     
  15. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    I was directed to this thread by Up North on another forum. I am so sorry- and very late- offering my heartfelt sorrow to you JElfering. Jeff I hope you are right that the ones that aren't worth much outlive this. My new Jersey bull calf, which is worthless to some folks, started to eat sand yesterday for no known reason. I'm hoping Smith doesn't suffer any repercussions.
     
  16. Oxankle

    Oxankle Well-Known Member

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    Long ago an uncle told me never to leave a cow alone in a pen without all the hay she could eat if the pen was sandy. If they eat the hay it will move the sand thru, but if they have no feed in the pen it may kill them.

    He said that was also true of cattle eating acorns in the fall on sandy ground. The acorns will not move sand, but if there is hay there for the cattle they will eat enough of it to move the sand.
    Ox
     
  17. lgslgs

    lgslgs Well-Known Member

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    I am so sorry to hear about your loss of Jasmine. It is very hard losing the young ones - where you can see the beginnings of who they might have developed into and are left wondering about who they may actually have become.

    Lynda
     
  18. Patt

    Patt Well-Known Member

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    I am so sorry for your loss! And I also appreciate you sharing with us, I have never heard of that either but I will definitely look out for it.